Semantics: The Nature of Words and Their Meanings

Semantics: The Nature of Words and Their Meanings

Semantics: The Nature of Words and Their Meanings

Semantics: The Nature of Words and Their Meanings

Excerpt

Every book worth reading is a meeting place. Some would call it a battleground: are the writer's ideas or the reader's preconceptions to survive? Others more shrewdly will think of a marriage: which characteristics will prevail in whatever conceptions ensue? This book is about this meeting of minds through words. It sketches the conditions of communication; and so has to put the theory of Metaphor very much in the forefront. And of all the metaphors with which man has tried to picture the transmission of ideas, by far the best is that which too often lies dormant in the word "conceive" itself. If we think it through far enough we may come to wonder if this "metaphor" is not rather a theory awaiting development--a conception which has yet to be born, as important perhaps as its long gestation in the human intellect might suggest.

It is present in all talk of fertile ideas, seeds of thought, culture, and such. It recurs in Plato with a frequency and a frankness which embarrassed his nineteenth-century translators. It has haunted historians of ideas ever since. Perhaps today, with our increased knowledge of the detail of biological and intellectual inheritance, we are approaching a stage at which it could be further ex-

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